Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Matrimonial Hoax

SMH 26 September 1854

A MATRIMONIAL HOAX - It is extremely difficult at times to trace back to their secret spring the actions of people who from general conduct would not be adjudged insane. On Friday last, a man, calling himself John Daley, who had grown grey in years, if not ripe in wisdom, called at our office and desired his marriage with Miss Ellen O'Hearn on the 15th inst. to be announced. Nothing doubting, the advertisement was drawn out in due form, paid for, and made its appearance in last Saturday's issue Everything passed off peaceably until Monday morning, when the indignant Miss O'Hearn, evidently in her teens, rushed into our sanctum, and repudiated the notice as a vile imposition, asserting that she was still in a state of single blessedness. In extenuation of the trick of which we have been made the unwitting medium, we have to congratulate the fair damsel that it is a trick and nothing more, and to express a hope that the fates have something better in store for her as a husband than a miserable old curmedgeon, who appears to have as much sense as decency, and quite as little decency as feeling. "John Daley, shepherd to Mr. Lynch, at Cowra," may fancy that in palming a disgraceful fabrication upon us, he has done a very clever thing, and perhaps gratified some malignant purpose of his heart. There is very littel credit due to him, however, for his little ingenuity. Representing himself as the bridegroom of some young wife whose case we pitied, there appeared no reason to doubt his statement, and we were, therefore, imposed upon. May our explanation of the facts prove as satisfactory to the blooming complainant as salutary to her surreptitious 50 year old bridegroom.

Monday, November 9, 2009


15 November 1832 Thursday

On Tuesday, a coroner’s Inquest was assembled by MAJOR SMEATHMAN, at the SHIP INN, Parramatta-road, in consequence of the body of an individual named THOMAS CUNNINGHAM, having been discovered, the previous day, by a servant of DR. RAMSAY’S, couched in the hollow of a white gum tree, to which spot, the man was attracted by the strong effluvia emanating from the tree, situated remote from the road, about half-a-mile, in nearly an impervious part of the bush. The body was found coiled up, and under the left side was a bundle of cloths, which the deceased had in him possession at the time he left Sydney, about three weeks before, and at twenty years distance, his hat was found, containing a pass from LIEUTENANT-COLONEL SNODGRASS. One of the shirts in the bundle was marked with blood, but how, or in what manner, no evidence was forthcoming to solve; MR. JEANNERET, who attended professionally, gave it has his opinion, that there were no marks of fractured bones, but from the decomposed state of the flesh parts, it was impossible to say, whether he met his death by a wound. After jury had sat for six hours in deliberation, without any evidence being adduced, that could throw light on the way in which the deceased came to his death, they returned the following verdict;- “This jury are of opinion, from the state of extreme decomposition in which the body of the late THOMAS CUNNINGHAM had been seen by the, and the total want of evidence, they cannot decide on the actual cause of this death.” A coffin was provided, and the remains removed for interment.

NOTES. This sad story was also reported by the Sydney Gazette in some detail on 15 Nov 1832.

MYSTERIOUS DEATH. - An inquest was convened on Tuesday last, by C. T. SMEATH MAN, Esq. Coroner for the Sydney district, at the Ship Inn, on the Parramatta Road, on view of a body discovered the day previous on the Dobroyd estate. It appeared, that as two of Dr. Ramsay's men were passing through the bush on Monday, they smelt a most disagreeable effluvia ; one of them remarked that there surely must be a dead body not far off, and the other, in consequence, proceeded in the direction from whence the stench proceeded, into an almost impervious scrub, where he found the body of the deceased in the hollow of a large tree, about five feet in diameter. He immediately hastened home and related what he had seen to his master, who transmitted the information to the proper authorities. On the jury proceeding towards the spot, the effect produced on the air by the decomposition of the remains was so powerful that they were scarcely able to perform their painful office. The body was coiled up, and lying on the left side; a bundle containing clothes and other necessaries in travelling, being placed under, as if to answer the purpose of a pillow. The tree in which it was deposited was a white gum, which had at some former period been hollowed by fire, and was situated about half a mile from the road at Iron Cove bridge. At a distance of some twenty yards from the body, was a black hat containing a pass, dated 19th September last, giving a description corresponding with the deceased, stating the bearer's name to be James Cunningham, late a private of H. M. 50th regiment of foot, and that he had permission to pass from Sydney to the interior in search of work ; it was signed by Colonel Snodgrass. In the bundle was a dirty shirt, the collar of which bore marks of blood, though not saturated, and on the body was one apparently clean, as if they had been changed just previous to death. Four goannas ran up the tree, and the animals of the bush had preyed so very lavishly on the remains of mortality that the thorax and other parts of the neck, together with various portions of flesh from the rest of the body, were missing. Doctor Jeaneret examined the body, and certified that none of the bones were fractured, but it was in such an advanced stage of decomposition, as to render it impossible to decide whether a wound had at any time been inflicted. The jury were somewhat divided in opinion ; the idea of some being that the deceased had been murdered, and the majority of opinion that he had placed himself in the tree and died a natural death. After much deliberation, however, they agreed upon the following verdict - "That this jury are of opinion, from the extreme state of decomposition in which the body of the late Thomas Cunningham has this day by them been seen, and the total want of evidence, that they cannot decide on the actual cause of his death."

In the latter part of the afternoon, a young woman arrived, who stated herself to have been the wife of the deceased ; that he had accepted the commuted allowance, and arrived lately in the colony with herself and child, but being reduced to a state of utter destitution, they placed the child out to nurse, she went to service, and the deceased left Sydney last Wednesday three weeks, to seek for the means of supporting them up the country, taking with him the things just as found in the bundle. It also appeared that he had been seen passing the Plough Inn on that afternoon."

Genuinely heart-breaking. His NSW BDM burial entry
V18321495 16/1832 CUNNINGHAME, THOMAS, AGE 42


12 November 1832 Monday

On Thursday an inquest was convened at the KING’S ARMS, York-street, on the body of MICHAEL TOWNHEND, who came to his death the previous day under the following circumstances:- On the 6th instant while driving a cart, the animal becoming restive, he fell out, and the wheel injured his head, causing his death in a few hours. The Jury returned a verdict of Accidental Death, and levied a deodand of one shilling on the horse. (note deodand spelt this way in report, could be demand)

Notes. From Wikipedia: Deodand is a thing forfeited or given to God, specifically, in law, an object or instrument which becomes forfeit because it has caused a person's death.


22 November 1832 Thursday

On Sunday an Inquest was held at the WHALERS ARMS, Windmill-street, on the body of a man names DISS-D MOULGUIT, a native of the Isle of France, who met his death under the following circumstances; Deceased and a man names JOHN PETERS, both belonging to the Clementine, having quarreled, they came on shore to fight, when PETERS struck the deceased a violently blow on the side of the head, which caused his immediate death. DR. BLOOMFIELD, who was in attendance, having examined the body, and given it as his opinion that the blow was the cause of his death the Jury returned a verdict of manslaughter, and PETERS was committed under the Coroner’s warrant to take his trial for the offence.


8 November 1832 Thursday

On Sunday an Inquest was convened by MAJOR SMEATHMAN, Coroner for Sydney, at the BRITISH STANDARD TAVERN AND HOTEL, on the body of a man names JAMES ROSE, who was drowned of Friday week last. It appeared in evidence that ROSE was a man holding a ticket-of-leave, and obtained his living by working a wood boat, when on the day above mentioned being of LONG NOSE POINT, a squall capsized the boat, and he was drowned. The body was picked up off GOAT ISLAND. Verdict--Accidentally drowned.

No BDM entry found.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


15 November 1832 Thursday

On Tuesday, a coroner’s Inquest was assembled by MAJOR SMEATHMAN, at the SHIP INN, Parramatta-road, in consequence of the body of an individual named THOMAS CUNNINGHAM, having been discovered, the previous day, by a servant of DR. RAMSAY’S, couched in the hollow of a white gum tree, to which spot, the man was attracted by the strong effluvia emanating from the tree, situated remote from the road, about half-a-mile, in nearly an impervious part of the bush. The body was found coiled up, and under the left side was a bundle of cloths, which the deceased had in him possession at the time he left Sydney, about three weeks before, and at twenty years distance, his hat was found, containing a pass from LIEUTENANT-COLONEL SNODGRASS. One of the shirts in the bundle was marked with blood, but how, or in what manner, no evidence was forthcoming to solve; MR. JEANNERET, who attended professionally, gave it has his opinion, that there were no marks of fractured bones, but from the decomposed state of the flesh parts, it was impossible to say, whether he met his death by a wound. After jury had sat for six hours in deliberation, without any evidence being adduced, that could throw light on the way in which the deceased came to his death, they returned the following verdict;- “This jury are of opinion, from the state of extreme decomposition in which the body of the late THOMAS CUNNINGHAM had been seen by the, and the total want of evidence, they cannot decide on the actual cause of this death.” A coffin was provided, and the remains removed for interment.


12 November 1832 Monday

On Thursday an inquest was convened at the KING’S ARMS, York-street, on the body of MICHAEL TOWNHEND, who came to his death the previous day under the following circumstances:- On the 6th instant while driving a cart, the animal becoming restive, he fell out, and the wheel injured his head, causing his death in a few hours. The Jury returned a verdict of Accidental Death, and levied a deodand of one shilling on the horse. (note deodand spelt this way in report, could be demand)

Notes. From Wikipedia: Deodand is a thing forfeited or given to God, specifically, in law, an object or instrument which becomes forfeit because it has caused a person's death.


22 November 1832 Thursday

On Sunday an Inquest was held at the WHALERS ARMS, Windmill-street, on the body of a man names DISS-D MOULGUIT, a native of the Isle of France, who met his death under the following circumstances; Deceased and a man names JOHN PETERS, both belonging to the Clementine, having quarreled, they came on shore to fight, when PETERS struck the deceased a violently blow on the side of the head, which caused his immediate death. DR. BLOOMFIELD, who was in attendance, having examined the body, and given it as his opinion that the blow was the cause of his death the Jury returned a verdict of manslaughter, and PETERS was committed under the Coroner’s warrant to take his trial for the offence.


8 November 1832 Thursday

On Sunday an Inquest was convened by MAJOR SMEATHMAN, Coroner for Sydney, at the BRITISH STANDARD TAVERN AND HOTEL, on the body of a man names JAMES ROSE, who was drowned of Friday week last. It appeared in evidence that ROSE was a man holding a ticket-of-leave, and obtained his living by working a wood boat, when on the day above mentioned being of LONG NOSE POINT, a squall capsized the boat, and he was drowned. The body was picked up off GOAT ISLAND. Verdict--Accidentally drowned.

No BDM entry found.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


3 December 1832 Monday.
An Inquest was held on the body of DENNIS READON, a free and aged man, who while riding after stock, was last week thrown from his horse and killed.


17 December 1832 Monday
A very respectable Inquest was assembled at the KING’S HEAD, Harrington-street, at an early hour on Friday, on the body of MR, JOHN BOWIE, who arrived in the Colony about eleven days ago by the “ North Briton,” who was found drowned near Macquarie Stairs. The Jury returned a verdict that the deceased drowned himself while in a temporary state of insanity.


6 December 1832 Thursday
On Monday an Inquest was convened at the Cottage, Pitt-street, on the body of a child name JAMES MCALISTER, aged five years, who came to his death the previous day, by falling into a well on the premises where his parents reside. It appeared in evidence that the child having been missing a search was made through Sydney without effect, when a child pointed out the well as the place into which the child had fallen. A man names JOHN FELVEY courageously stripped, and taking a stone in each hand, jumped into the well, the depth of water being twenty feet. At the bottom he found the child, and bore it to the surface, but quite dead. Verdict, accidentally drowned.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The mystery of John Matthews

From Genie.

19 December 1831 Monday
CURIOUS DISCOVERY;- Information has reached Sydney of the existence of a young man names MATHEWS, who was captured spout three years ago, by the natives of an Island called Malanta, near the New Hebrides, in the South Seas.- I may be recollected, that, about the time mentioned, the Alfred, whaler, was off that island fishing and in a dispute, between the natives and the crew, the Captain and several hands were murdered, and a mate (the person now discovered), was carried off a prisoner, and never since heard of. The manner in which this unfortunate young man has at last made himself known, was by cutting his name, the particulars of his capture, and his present situation, (which he represents as miserable), on apiece of bamboo, and then giving it to the natives to trade with. Not understanding he characters, and supposing the bamboo to be an original piece of tattoo workmanship, they bartered it away amongst other things to one of our Colonial whaling captains, (CAPTAIN HARWOOD, of the Hashmy), who retains it in his possession. We are informed that a humane attempt will be made to purchase this unhappy fellow from the savages.

Since the above was written, the schooner New Zealander has arrived in Sydney, from Malanta, and other places, and brings up more particulars of the fate of MATTHEWS, CAPT. HEDGES has in his possession a letter, and a carved cocoanut, which were brought on board the New Zealander, by a native, from their prisoner, the subject of the narrative.

The following is literal copy of the letter;
Sir, - Be kind to the natives, as my life is in their hands, I am alive, after a long illness from the wounds I received. Write to me the particulars if a ship killed any of the natives on the other side of the Island. They say our ship killed three men. They keep me close, and will not let me come near the ship. Make him a present of something showey;- his name is Bulowwa. If you will send me a shirt and a pair of trowsers, I will be much obliged to you; I am in a state of nature. A ship may get a good supply on this Island, by making friends with them, Give the men something to eat, as it is great friendship with them. Write to me the particulars what ships are cruising off this island. I live on the north side of the Island. Be careful of the natives- they are forming a plan to take a ship. Do not come on shore without fire arms, they are canibals. If I can once get a note from you, I can form a plan to get away.
I am, your humble servant


This is a most curious story. So what happened? Let's work through this ship in a timeline.

Friday 1 July 1825
Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen’s Land Advertiser
"The Alfred whaler, Captain Eber Bunker, had arrived from Santa Cruz Island, with 1000 barrels of sperm oil, which were procured in five months."

Thursday 4 August 1825
The Sydney Gazette
"The Alfred whaler, Captain Bunker, of the house of Jones and Walker, sailed for the sperm fishery also on Saturday."

Wednesday 16 May 1827
The Sydney Gazette
"On Monday last arrived, from the sperm fishery, the Alfred, whaler."

Wednesday 14 May 1828
The Sydney Gazette
Shipping Intelligence
"Also arrived, the Colonial schooner Haweis, Captain J James, from New Zealand the 26th April, with potatos and flax. The Alfred whaler had arrived at New Zealand, having lost her captain, mate, and three seamen, killed by the natives while in pursuit of a whale in the neighbourhood of those Isles."

Friday 16 May 1828
The Sydney Gazette
"The disaster that befel the captain of the Alfred whaler, second mate, and part of her crew, we understand, ocurred off the Solomon Isles, and not in the vicinity of New Zealand, as reported in our last. At the time the attack was made by the natives on the captain's boat, the whole of the boats were engaged either in pursuing or cutting up whales. The natives were accustomed to traffic with whalers, and the intercourse between them and the Europeans being quite usual, no suspicion of any hostile intention arose in the minds of the ill-fated mariners, until they were struck down by showers of spears, and other belligerent instruments. In a whale- boat it is unusual to take arms, and especially in the vicinity of apparently friendly islanders, on which account our unhappy countrymen had not the means of resistance against the number of canoes that bore them down. The other boats providentially regained the ship, otherwise it was the intention of the assailants to have captured her, and they could not have struck the blow at a more unfavourable crisis for the unfortunate commander and his second officer. The Alfred left this port in October last, and the sanguinary affair occured in Decem- ber following, notwithstanding which, under the Command of Mr. Banks, the chief officer, she has been very successful, having procured upwards of 100 tons of oil when last seen."

Wednesday 23 July 1828
Sydney Gazzette
"SALE ON ACCOUNT OF UNDERWRITERS. At the Store of Jones and Walker, Hunter Street... a SILVER WATCH, and a Binnacle Timepiece ; a Sextant and other Nautical instruments, together with the Clothing and other effects belonging to the Estate of Captain Philips and other persons who were killed by Natives of South Sea Islands, on board the Alfred, Whaler, during her last Voyage."

Wednesday 3 September 1828
Sydney Gazzette
"A fine whale was struck off the heads four or five days ago, by one of the boats of the Alfred, whaler, which afforded sport to a boat's crew till yesterday morning, when the whale re-appeared, was secured, towed into harbour, and safely moored alongside the go-downs of Jones and Walker, at the entrance of Darling Harbour. This fish is fifty feet long, will furnish 5 tons of oil, and give 500 weight of bone - so that about L. 200 will be cleared by the job."


Was Matthews rescued?

No subsequent reference could be found in the current National Library of Australia digitised newspapers. An on-line forum did make reference to the Historical Records of Australia:

Pages 52 - 53
Governor Bourke to Under Secretary Hay
Government House, 20th March 1833
In reply to your letter of the 8th of November last enclosing a copy of one from Joanna Bate making enquiry concerning a person called John Matthews, said to be detained on the Island of Melanta in the South Seas, and whom she believes to be her brother, I have the honour to inform you that the presence in Sydney of Captain Harewood, Master of the whaler Hashmy, has enabled me to obtain the information, which will be found in the paper herewith enclosed (Sydney Herald). I will not fail to take any opportunity that my offer for procuring the escape of Matthews from Melanta, if he should be still there; but it is quite uncertain when such an opportunity may occur; and to engage a ship to touch at the island would require the expenditure of a larger sum than Lord Goderich has authorised."

The island of Melanta is apparently in the group of Solomon Islands. It appears many whaling ships visited the Island, and as such it is possible Matthews was recovered. I haven't found any subsequent report of his rescue, though the following passage suggests the possibility that contact may have beem maintained with Matthews:

The Perth Gazette
Friday 15 December 1854
On the 15th October a small cutter called the Oberon arrived at Sydney from the Solomon's Archipelago, bringing reports which tend to revive the hopes, never quite extinguished, that Mr Benjamin Boyd may be still alive. The Herald says :-" The co- incidence of the report from the American whaler that the name " Benjamin Boyd" was seen on some trees, with the statement of the natives to Captain Blaxlend, that a tall man with a long beard, and a boy, were on the island, is sufficient to authorise the Government to dispatch a vessel to Guadalcanar to make enquiries. There are many instances on record where white men, falling into the hands of the natives, have been detained for years ; and if this unfortunate gentleman was not killed immediately on his landing, it is very probable that he is still alive."

Mr Boyd is supposed to be held in captivity in the island of Guadalcanar abovementioned, and the efforts of his friends are en couraged by the following testimony of Capt. Williamson, at a meeting held with a view to Mr Boyd's rescue :- "He knew that the natives often kept prisoners for many years. About 20 years ago he was in the Alfred, a ship trading there, and the mate, having gone on shore, was kept by the natives, who murdered many of his companions. He was retained on the island of Melanta' and was made a great deal of by the natives. They were able to communicate with him by writing on strips of bamboo ; but he always told them in the same manner that he was not allowed to get away. The natives made a sort of god of Europeans sometimes, and this man was the subject of wars among the various tribes for his possession. He was fed up with everything that he wanted, and had as many wives as he pleased. (Laughter.) What he (Capt. Williamson) proposed was, that some of the various vessels going down to these islands to trade, should be informed of the sup- posed position of Mr Boyd, and that a reward say of £1000, should be offered to any capt. that should bring him off the island safe. All though they would do a great deal for friend ship, they would do more for money, and they would thus have a direct pecuniary interest to use the greatest exertions." The committee resulted in the appointment of a committee to wait upon the Government.


From Genie.

15 October 1832 Monday
On Friday an Inquest was held at the SQUARE AND COMPASS, Brickfield hill, on the body of JOHN CROAKER, who was drowned in BLACK WATTLE SWAMP, the Saturday previous, having jumped in when under the influence of liquor, for the purpose of swimming across. The Jury found a verdict of accidentally drowned on the 16th instant, in BLACK WATTLE SWAMP.


The Gazette also mentioned details of his death in a number of articles:

Tuesday 9 October 1832
MELANCHOLY ACCIDENT.-A painter in the hired employ of Mr. Robert Cooper, met an untimely death on Saturday evening at that gentleman's establishment, at Blackwattle Swamp, under the following circumstances. The deceased and some of his companions had been drinking together, end were about to proceed round the dam to the hut in which tney resided, when the deceased boasted that he could swim across, and arrive there before them if they ran round. He accordingly pulled off his clothes and plunged in, but bad not got above twenty yards, when he seized some scrub in the pond, and called out for assistance. Some of the others ran for a boat, and one plunged in, but on reaching the spot, the unfortunate man had sunk to rise no more alive. Every effort was immediately made to recover the body ; the dam was dragged all night, and nil Sunday, and guns were fired across but without effect.

Thursday 11 October 1832
"The body of John Croker, the unfor- tunate man wbo was drowned in Mr. Cooper's mill dam at the Brisbane Distillery on Saturday evening has not yet been recovered, although every means' that practice or ingenuity could devise have been made use of for that purpose. The confined limits of this piece of water renders this the more remarkable."

"The body of John Croker, the unfortunate man who was drowned in the dam of the dam of the Brisbane Distillery last Saturday week, floated to the surface on Friday morning. An inquest was accordingly held upon it the same day, and a verdict returned of- "Accidentally drowned."

NSW BDM burial entry:
V18321716 16/1832 CROKER JOHN AGE 36
So he was born about 1796.

The 1828 census shows John Croaker, aged 33, a plumber at R Coopers Distillery. He was an ex-convict, arrived on the 'Morley' in 1818 with a sentence of 7 years.


22 October 1832 Monday
Coroner’s Inquest; On Thursday an Inquest was convened at the CABINET MAKER’S ARMS, Phillip-street, on the body of MRS. SOPHIA PARKER, who died suddenly that morning after a short illness. The Jury returned a verdict of “died by the Visitation of God”.

Notes. Her death:
V18321490 16/1832 PARKER SOPHIA AGE 40
So born about 1792.


22 October 1832 Monday
On Sunday an Inquest was convened by MAJOR SMEATHMAN, Coroner for Sydney, at the LOGGERHEADS Public House, on Market Street, on the body of MR. JOHN BROWN, who died rather suddenly the previous evening. I appeared in evidence that the deceased had for some time past been in a desponding state, which connected with other circumstances, it was supposed caused his death. Jury found a verdict of “Visitation of God.”

From the Sydney Gazette:
From the evidence adduced, it appeared that the deceased who was formerly proprietor of the Bolwarra Estate, and has expended a large fontune in the colony, had experienced some serious disappointments in his pecuniary affairs, which induced him to fly to the rum bottle " and steep his senses in forgetfulness." To excess in this baneful antidote his death was evidently attributable, and the jury returned a verdict of "Died by the visitation of God."

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Inquests 1805

Sunday 4 August 1805
On Thursday se'nnight Mr. and Mrs. EVANS were unfortunately thrown out of a chaise between Parramatta and Hawkesbury ; and Mr. E. had his shoulder dislocated. We have nevertheless must satisfaction in adding that Mrs. EVANS with a beautiful infant in her arms, escaped the slightest hurt.

Last Friday G. BLAXCELL Esq. as Coroner, convened an inquest upon the body of Mr. HUMPHREY EVANS Settler of Seven Hills, who died the evening before in consequence of a tree striking him in its fall. The Jury returned a verdict accidental death. The deceased leaves a widow and two children to bemoan his unexpected loss, and was universally respected throughout his neighbourhood. On the Inquest it appeared, that at four in the af- ternoon of the preceding day he had gone out to procure paling for a stye ; but not returning when expected, his wife expressed much anx- iety, and at dusk dispatched a man in search of him, but he returning without any tidings of his master, his mistress directed him to accompany her, and after a long research discovered the unfortunate object of her anxiety outstretched, and across his breast a heavy oak tree which he himself had fallen.

Notes. Death in NSW BDM:
V18051994 2A/1805 EVANS HUMPHREY V1805725 148/1805 EVANS HUMPHREY


Sunday 8 December 1805
On Thursday a Coroner's Inquest assembled at Hawkesbury on the body of William Yardley, a settler down the River, whose death was occasioned by the following melancholy circumstances : A considerable time after himself and family were in bed Wednesday night, the house took fire, and burned with such rapidity as to render their escape difficult : he suceeded nevertheless, with his wife's assistance, in snatching his children from the flames, and then unhappily returned to save some little cloathing, but the roof falling in, he perished in the attempt. The body of the deceased presented a ghastly spectacle to the jurors, whose verdict was appropriate to the event. As the accident of the house taking fire was most unaccountable and mysterious, many people attributed it to the lightning, which was very vivid at the time; but it is a much more probable conjecture that the disaster originated in the rancour of the Branch natives, to whose excesses his activity was a constant curb, and whose hostile inclinations are as manifest as ever. So long as they content themselves with pillaging the settlers' grounds they experience civility and hospitable treatment : but tiring with this comparative moderation, they rush into acts of open and declared hostility ; and it is much to be lamented that possibly from the want of sufi- cient caution, the first objects of their treachery have too frequently become its easy victims.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


From Genie.

27 September 1832 Thursday
The Inquest upon, MR. BROOK'S murdered shepherd was resumed on Tuesday morning, when a verdict - 'WILFUL MURDER" was returned against EDWARD FORDHAM, who was committed under the Coroner's verdict to take his trial for the offence.

The Sydney Gazette reveals that Edward Fordham was hanged for murdering "THOMAS BRADFORD, a government servant employed at Lake George" as a servant of Captain Brooks.

Death: V18321567 16/1832 BRADFORD THOMAS AGE 23

The 1828 Muster shows a Thomas Bradford, in the 17 Chain Gang, arrived on the ship 'Hoogley'. The arrival indents for that ship show Thoma Bradford was convicted at 'Middlesex Gaol Delivery' on 12th July 1827 and sentenced to 14 years.


11 October 1832 Thursday
An Inquest was held at ARGYLE FARM, near Windsor, before MR. HOWE, Coroner, on Sunday week, on the body of WILLIAM BARTON, a Government servant to MR. J. FORRESTER, who was dragged by a run-a-way colt he was taking to water, and his head coming in contact with a post, it was literally split, which caused instant death;- Verdict, accidentally killed.

Notes. NSW BDM enry
V18321890 16/1832 BARTON WILLIAM AGE 63
This would make him born about 1869.

William Barton appears in the 1828 census:
William Barton, 59, Government Servant, arrived 1826 on the ship Sesostris, life sentence, Protestant, labourer, residing with John Forrester, Cornwallis.
Cornwallis is in the Richmond/Windsor district.

His arrival indent states that he was convicted at the Suffolk Assizes.

Old Sydney Burial Ground

Most burials from 1793-1822 in Sydney were at the Old Sydney Burial Ground, under what is now Town Hall. The full history of the cemetery is here:

Even while the cemetery was still in use there were problems:

Sydney Gazette
Sunday 25 November 1804

The fence reund the Burial Ground has of late been robbed of part of its paling, possibly to be converted into fuel. It would be impossible to suspect men of such a meanness unless it were positively established, as sacrilegiously to strip a consecrated ground, that had been protected by public contribution from the resort of swine and other flock, with no other possible view than that of answering a trifling want which might have been otherwise with equal ease supplied. Dastard must be the living spirit that would thus pollute the mansions of the dead with wanton and unprofitable crime-: insulting decency, and wounding the respect which friends and relatives still sensibly retain for the departed. Shame on the indecent miscreant ! and if detection 'light upon this crime, contempt prepare a stamp whereby he shall be shunned and pointed at.

1804 inquests

Sydney Gazette 1804 inquests

Sunday 15 January 1804
On Saturdy the 7th Instant an Inquest was held on the body of an infant daughter of Richard Grimshaw, taken up after interment in consequence of a suspicion that her death had been occasioned by the merciless treatment of the said Richard Grimshaw. The opinion of a medical Gentleman confirmed the supposition; and from the evidence that appeared before the Coroner, a Verdict of Wilful Murder was returned against the father of tbe child, who was in consequence fully committed to His Majesty's Gaol at Sydney, to take his trial for the offence before a Court of Criminal Jurisdiction.

Note. NSW Burial entries - there may be two as she was disinterred then reinterred.
V1804675 148/1804 GRIMSHAW MARY INFANT


Sunday 10 June 1804

On Monday night died suddenly when going down a dance at Government House, Vernicourt De Clamb, Esq, of Castle Hill. The day following an Inquest was held, at which the medical Gentlemen who attended the deceased at the approach of death, gave it as their opinion, that the event was occasioned by an apoplexy; the verdict of the Jury was, Death by the visitation of God. The above Gentleman was a Knight of the Order of St. Lewis, and had served with much professional Honour as Captain of the Regiment of Pondichery, and was among the few Officers taken at the reduction of that place, who prefering the conscious duty of continuing his Fidelity to his unfortunate Sovereign, remained under the protection of the British Government in India, and under the peculiar countenance and favour of Colonel now General Floyd, who witnessed Le Chevalier D'Clamb's heroism in his conduct at Pondichery, while he considered himself fighting for his King ; no sooner was the Fort surrendered than that marked fidelity which has ever distinguished him took place of every other sentiment, in which he lived and died.

For a short time the Chevalier held some important Command under some of the Native Princes in India, but on their being an appearance of hostilities between his employers and the British Interests in India, he resigned that situation and returned to cultivate a small spot of ground at the village of Chingle - put near Madras, where he succeeded in raising vines. Some affairs calling him to England he came to this Colony under the auspices of Government, a Free Settler, in the latter part of 1801, and had a very desirable Farm of One Hundred Acres given him at Castle-Hill, which, with an extended assistance given him by Government, he made a very great progress, not only in clearing his land and producing the necessary grain, &c. but also in raising Coffee Trees from seeds he brought with him, and in which he has been very successful; so much had this respectable Officer that object at heart, that he has frequently expressed a wish to be buried among them, a wish that humanity and respect for so amiable a character could not refuse. It is understood that he has one or two legitimate children now in India under the protection of a respectable General Officer.

Note. NSW Burial: V18041896 2A/1804 DECLAMP VERNICOURT


Sunday 15 July 1804
Early on Sunday Morning last the body of STEPHEN BOYLIN was found immersed in water in a cavity nearly at the Northern extremity of the Rocks, and when taken out a quantity of blood gushed from an aperture of the right temple, which being examined by JOHN HARRIS, Esq. Surgeon of the New South Wales Corps, was declared to have proceeded from a heavy blow with a pointed instrument. The violence of the stroke had been such as to occasion a fissure on the skull ; and which Mr HARRIS had no doubt had been the cause of the unfortunate man's death.

At nine in the morning an Inquest assembled on the body, before whom the testimony of a number of witnesses was taken, and at half past nine at night the Jury found a Verdict - Willful Murder against several persons taken into custody on suspicion.

Two days before his death, the deceased arrived from Wreck Reef in the Marcia ; and it was supposed, had gone in quest of an acquaintance who formerly resided near the spot where the body was found :- It was conveyed to the General Hospital, and interred on Tuesday."

Notes. NSW Burial: V18041903 2A/1804 BOILING STEPHEN
Buuried at the Old Sydney Burial Ground.


Sunday 23 September 1804
On Monday last an infant of Sarah Pearce, in the Brickfield's experienced a fate the most distressing that can possibly be imagined. The mother on returning home with the little creature in her arms, placed it on the bed, in order that she might her self go in search of two other children, but unhappily after which she closed the door, and secured a young pig also within the house.

After a short interval she returned and supposing the child to be asleep, paid no immediate attention to it. Some moments after, to her utter astonishment and horror, she accidentally approached the bed, and there witnessed a spectacle, the horrors of which are not to be conceived. The pig had by some means mounted the bed, and was then in the very act of devouring the child. The mother's shrieks brought the neighbours to bear witness of the calamity, but alas ! too late to render assistance to the babe ; whose face was torn to pieces and devoured ; the hands of the ill-fated innocent were also mangled and destroyed, owing, it is probable, to its incompetent resistance.

The same day a Coroner's Inquest was held on the body of the Child, whose Ver- dict was dictated by the terrible circum- stances or its death, and acquitted the dis- tracted parent of any blame whatever. The voracious animal was shot immediately that the Accident was discovered ; and was afterwards burnt by order of the Coroner. -It had been given to the poor child by a sponsor on the day of its baptism.


Sunday 25 November 1804
On Thursday last a representation was made to the Provist Marshal by William Neil, stating the death of Mrs MCDUAL, of the Back-row East in consequence of violent treatment received from her husband. Neil's declamations were calculated, however they might have been designed, to excite strong suspicion: in consequence of which, the above Gentleman waited on and made known the circumstance to his Excellency ; who was pleased to issue a circular letter to the Gentlemen of the Faculty, 'requesting their attendance at the house of the deceased, there to inspect the body, in order to determine the neccesity of summoning an Inquest.

In compliance with the foregoing instruc- tion, Thomas Jamison, Esq. Principal, and Mr. James Mileham, Assistant Surgeon, together with John Harris, Esq, Surgeon of the New South Wales Corps, proceeded to whence, after the most minute enquiry, they were decidedly of opinion that the declaration of the above informant was false, infamous, & malicious ; as that no symptom of violence whatever appeared on the body - and the perons who attended the deceased during her illness protested solemnly, when examined se- perately,that no violence whatever had been offered her.


Sunday 23 December 1804
Between 10 and 11 in the forenoon of Wednesday last an express was received in town, stating the almost sudden death of Mr. Thomas Smyth, Provost Marshall. On Thursday morning the body of the deceased arrived in Sydney; and by His Excellency's Order an Inquest assembled to enquire into the circumstances that occasioned the above Gentleman's death ; Mr. Tho- mas Moore appointed to act as Coroner.

At 11 in the forenoon the Inquest was convened ; when from the most respectable and undoubted testimony it appeared the; deceased had gone to the house of Mr. William Baker of Hawkesbury, storekeeper, on Sunday last, and appeared to enjoy a much better state of health than he had for some months past ; but that between two and three on Tuesday afternoon he was seized suddenly with a convulsion, which rendered it necessary to call in the assistance of Thomas Arndell, Esq. Magistrate and Residentiary Surgeon at the above Settlement, by whom he was attended accordingly ; that during his illness which lasted until between the hours of twelve and one on Wednesday morning every possible attention was paid to him, as well by Mr. Arndell as by Mr. Baker, and Family ; but that every appearance of life then disappeared.

Mr. Smyth's death is much regretted, as he was universally respected for his humanity in acquitting himself of the duties of his office; the generosity and benevolence of his heart ; the affability of his manners, and the placidity of his dispofition.

The hour appointed for the interment was five on Wednesday evening ; which turned out rainy and unfavourable ; but nevertheless, the moft respectful attention was shewn to the passing bier by all classes of inhabitants; and notwithstanding the extreme badness of the weather, the procession was conducted with a solemnity suited to the occa sion, and to the general regret.....

About six o'clock the procession reached the burial ground ; and after the funeral obsequies were concluded, three rounds were fired over the grave by 50 of the New South Wales Corps, in token of the high respect due to the remains of a true Patriot, a loyal Subject, and a worthy Member of Society.

Note. No burial indexed for a Thomas SMYTH in 1804 but there is a Thomas SMITH.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Various news

From Genie.

13 September 1832 Thursday
On Monday, and Inquest was held at the "THREE CROWNS" Cumberland-street, on the body of WILLIAM DREW, who came to his death that morning from falling into a well, by over reaching himself to obtain a bucket that had fallen in. Although he was in the water four minutes only, he expired soon after he was taken out of the well. Verdict Accidental Death.

Notes. No burial found in NSW BDM records. The Sydney Gazette for Tuesday 11 September 1832 desribed the inquest. The well was "in the rear of King Street, north". As with a previous article, the difficulty in finding a doctor who would come to his aid is discussed at some length (including Hosking again).


17 September 1832 Monday
On Friday an Inquest was holden at the ROSE AND CROWN INN, on the body of CHARLES WOODMAN, an assigned servant to WILLIAM BROWN, Surry Hills, who died about one o'clock the same morning. It appeared in evidence that deceased was very unwell overnight, and the master thinking he was dying, put him into a cart and conveyed him to the Hospital. When he arrived there the deceased was found dead. DR. MITCHELL gave it as his opinion that pectoral affection and consequent debility had caused death. Verdict, died by the visitation of God.

Notes. Names, and spelling, often vary between the Herald and the Gazette.

Sydney Gazette
Saturday 15 September 1832
CORONER'S INQUEST.-The Coroner convened an inquest yesterday noon, at Sandwell's Rose and Crown Tavern, Castlereigh-street, on the body of CHARLES HAYWOOD, a prisoner of the Crown, assigned to Mr. William Browne, a settler, residing on the South Head road. It appeared in evidence, that the deceased had formerly served in a man-of war in several general actions, in which he had received several wounds. These had induced rheumatic and pectoral affections, from which during the whole of his assignment to Mr. Browne (about l8 months), he had been ailing. He came out of the hospital about four months ago, and, from within two days of his leaving, he became gradually worse. On Thursday night, about eleven o'clock, he aroused his master, observing that "he was very unwell, and thought he was dying." The master alarmed a neighbour, who advised that he should be brought without delay to the hospital. A horse was accordingly harnessed, and the deceased put in a cart ; the neighbour supporting his head in it, and the master leading the horse as gently as possible, till they arrived at the hospital ahout one, when it was discovered he had breathed his last. The certificate of Dr Mitchell was in accordance with these facts, and the Jury accordingly returned a verdict of" Died by the visitation of God."


8 August 1831 Monday
Monday, August 1;- ROSE BRIAN, a stunty little dame, with the corner of her apron applied to her eye, from which pearly drops fell freely, was charged with absenting herself for a week, this being the third offence; she stated by way of defence, that she was allowed no blunt for her services; also, that her mistress had given her a cap with no lace on the edge, which she did not consider quite the thing, and therefore made off to where she could be better provided with Toggery. Six weeks to the third class in the factory.


26 July 1832 Thursday
On Tuesday an Inquest was held at the SHEER HULK, on the body of a mariner, named JOHN TAYLOR, who fell dead that morning. From evidence, it appeared that deceased had died from the internal rupture of a blood vessel, and a verdict was returned to that effect.

Notes. A number of John Taylor's appear in the NSW BDM indexes.

Monday, October 19, 2009

1803 inquests

Sydney Gazette in 1803

Saturday 2 April 1803
On Monday last George Patterson (a labouring man), was picked up in the Back Row, apparently in a state of intoxication. He was taken into a house and put to bed, but some hours after was found cold and lifeless. On Tuesday an inquest was summoned, whose verdict was, DEATH in consequence of an apoplexy.

Notes. NSW burial V18031776 2A/1803 PATERSON GEORGE
Buried at the Old Sydney Burial Ground.


Sunday 10 April 1803
On Saturday the 2d inst. the Provost Marshall went with an inquest to Garden Island in consequence of a Native being shot the preceeding evening, while plundering the grounds of Captain Scott, at that place. After a very minute investigation of the circumstance and its antecedent causes, the Jury brought in a verdict "Justifiable Homicide." The canoe of the deceased was found to be full of maize, melons, &c. taken out of the above grounds ; and although several others had assisted in the depredation, yet upon the appearance of Captain Scott's servants, they leaped into the water, and got clear off. It also appeared, we are sorry to say, that several white men were among the natives, who, there is every reason to suspect, had assisted and encouraged them in this delinquency, but who then also escaped apprehension. A fishing-boat was found near to the native's canoe, which, as it appeared without an owner, was confiscated to the public use.

Some of the natives have since named the white men, who assisted them in the maraud ; and although such evidence may not be resorted to, yet the police are determined to use every vigilant exertion to bring them to justice, upon the first misdemeanor in which they may hereafter be implicated.


Sunday 21 August 1803
On Monday morning last, between seven and eight o'clock, the body of Andrew Kenelly, private in the New South Wales Corps, was found suspended and lifeless. The unfortunate Man had first attempted to effect the crime of suicide by stabbing himself twice. He left a Letter for a Comrade in which he declared himself accessory to a false accusation of the Deput Commissary's, malversation of the King's Stores, and implicated John Thorogood, who was consequently taken into custody. On Tuesday an examination took place on Thorogood, before the Judge Advocate and several magistrates, when Charles Cathcart, a private Soldier, declared that he was intimately acquainted with the deceased, and verily believed that the rash and fatal step he had taken proceeded from a mental derangement, under which he had unfortunately laboured. James Harris, private Soldier, also gave evidence to the same effect, but nothing then appeared in support of the charge upon which Thorogood was examined. The prisoner was ordered to remain in custody. The Coroners Inquest brought in a verdict of Lunacy.


JOSEPH LUKER, a Constable, whose time of duty commenced at twelve o'clock, went off his post, as is conjectured, at or rather before day-light, with a design of examining the brush behind Back Row ; but was shortly afterwards found on the edge of the Road leading to Farm Cove, a breathless Corpse, shockingly mangled, and with the guard of his cutlass buried in his brain ; the sheath lay near the body; and his hat more than 20 yards distant. The wheel of a barrow was found near the spot, the carriage of which was traced to the yard of Sarah Laurence, at the opposite corner of Back Row, whose Skilling was inhabited by persons on whom suspicion of the Robbery had fallen.

The carriage of the Barrow appeared to be stained with blood : from which and other circumstances William Bladders, alias Hambridge, was immediately apprehended, with several other suspected persons.

The velocity with which the necessary measures of Enquiry were adopted, could only be equalled by the Public Anxiety to discover the Perpetrators of the inhuman act. The New South Wales Corps were out under Arms, and blockaded the Town at every avenue, while the strictest search was made throughout ; and all persons of suspicious character were thereby secured, and brought before the Coroner's Inquest, which assembled between the hours of nine and ten. John Harris, Esq. Surgeon of the New South Wales Corps, strictly attended the Enquiry, and inspected the Body ; as did also Thomas Jamison Esq. Surgeon General, and Messrs. Mileham and Savage, Assistant Surgeons to the Colony.

On the head of the deceased were counted Sixteen Stabs and Contusions ; the left ear was nearly divided ; on the left side of the head were four wounds, and several others on the back of it. The wretch who buried the iron guard of the cutlass in the head of the unfortunate man had seized the weapon by the blade, and levelled the dreadful blow with such fatal force, as to rivet the plate in the skull, to a depth of more than an inch and a half.

The Search was animated by the Presence of HIS EXCELLENCY ; the LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR was also present ; every Officer, whether Civil or Military, exerted himself in endeavouring to trace the Assassins. The Coroner's Inquest, which was composed of Twelve very reputable Inhabitants, after an Enquiry of Five Hours returned a Verdict of WILFUL MURDER against William Bladders, alias Hambridge, and some other Person or Persons unknown. The Prisoner was consequently committed to close Custody, and several others were detained on suspicion.

A man was seen lurking about Cockle Bay in the afternoon, whose appearance was such as to create a strong suspicion of his being accessary to the above crimes. He was described to be rather tall, wore a blue jacket, and then had a small bundle with him. Parties were immediately in quest of him, and a Trooper was dispatched to Parramatta with the Hu and Cry. Avenging Heaven directs the Hand of Justice, and the MANES of the Deceased inspires us with Indignation and Resentment !

Notes. NSW Burial - V18031817 2A/1803 LOOKER JOSEPH

Curiously, the Sydney Gazette  has a follow-up article that describes LUKER/LOOKER's headstone:

Sunday 6 November 1803
"A grave-stone has lately been erected over the head of the late unfortunate LUKER, with an Inscription and Epitaph descriptive of the circumstances of his death, and of which, as the catastrophe ingressed Public attention, we literally subjoin a copy:-

Sacred to the Memory of
JOSEPH LUKER, Constable;
Aug 19, 1803, aged 35 years
Ressurexit in Deo
My midnight vigils are no more;
Cold sleep and peace succeed;
The Pains of Death are past and o'er,
my wounds no longer bleed.
But when my murderers appear
before JEHOVAH's Throne,
Mine will it be to vanquish there
And theirs t'endure alone

At the head of the stone, which is four feet in height, the head and bones appear as a "Memento more" with the addition of a Cutlass, as by a weapon of that decription the skull of the deceased had been most inhumanely fractured."

Police Incident

From Genie.

Sydney Herald
Police Incident
21 November 1831 Monday
John Morris, enjoying himself in a grog shop, which he declared he had mistaken for the Church, was sent to the Cells for three days.

Coroner's Inquests

16 August 1832
An Inquest was held at the School House, below WISEMAN'S on the HAWKESBURY, on the 13th instant, on the body of FRANCES MERCHANT, a child of two years of age, who had strayed from her house, fell into a hole of water (which had been dug for a well) three foot deep, and was drowned. A Verdict of "Accidentally Drowned" was returned, and the hole directed to be filled up or fenced in.

Notes. Her death:


26 July 1832 Thursday
On Sunday an Inquest was holden before MAJOR SMEATHMAN, Coroner for Sydney, at the BRITISH STANDARD TAVERN AND HOTEL, on the body of MR. JAMES NICHOLSON, gunsmith, who died suddenly the previous day. It appeared in evidence that deceased had been unwell for some time past, caused in a great measure from the free use of spirituous liquors. The Jury returned a verdict, that the deceased died by the visitation of God.

Notes. His death in NSW BDM indexes:
V18321465 16/1832 NICHOLSON JAMES AGE 60
Therefore born about 1772. According to the 1828 census he arrived on the 'Asia' (3) in 1825 with a 7 year sentence, his employment then given as 'gunsmith' living at George St, Sydney. The Sydney Gazette carried news of the inquest Tuesday 24 July 1832 and noted that James Nicholson was "a gunsmith of George St.... the unfortunate deceased had accumulated some property since his arrival in the Colony, and was generally supposed to be preparing to return to his Native Country (Ireland), where his prospects were flattering. As a tradesman in his particular art, he stood unrivalled in Sydney."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Coroner's Inquests

Transcribed by Genie

9 August 1832 Thursday
On Sunday an Inquest was held at the THREE CROWNS, Cumber-street, on the body of THOMAS MILLER, one of the Chelsea Pensioners, lately arrived in this Colony. The unfortunate man was much addicted to the use of spirituous liquor and on the previous evening had laid himself down by the side of St. Phillip's Church, were, from the inclemency of the weather, he perished. The Jury returned a verdict, "that decease died by the visitation of God".

Death in NSW BDM:
V18321470 16/1832 MILLER THOMAS AGE 55
As such, he was born abt 1877. As a Chelsea Penioner he had served in a British regiment. An article in the Sydney Gazette published on Tuesday 7 August 1832 noted:
"...It appeared the deceased had been formerly a serjeant major in the 62d regiment of foot, with which corps he served a great number of years in India, and was finally discharged from the army with a pension about four and a half years ago. Among many others, he consented to emigrate to New South Wales for the commuted allowance of four years pension in advance. He arrived in Sydney by the 'Sovereign' last April, but having been unable to find employment, and only a part of his money, gave way to habits of intoxification."


28 June 1832 Thursday.
On Saturday morning last, MR. JOHN HILL BLANCHARD, of Parramatta, was found dead in his bed-room, his brains having been apparently, blown out by a pistol. An Inquest sat upon the body, and a verdict of felo de se was returned. The deceased had been subject to fits of temporary derangement, caused by excessive depression of spirits, and had once or twice expressed a fear that he should commit some violence upon himself.


In the matter of JOHN HILL BLANCHARD, who was found dead on Saturday last, his brains having been blown out, apparently by a pistol, and on whose body an inquest was holden, and a verdict returned of felo de se.

MR. NORTON moved that the verdict should be set aside, and a new Jury impannelled, to try the facts, on the ground that the evidence given at the inquest did not warrant the finding, and that the inquisition was also informal.

The deceased was a man of considerable property, and the verdict (if suffered to remain as found by the Jury) would cause the forfeiture of his state and effects to the crown.

The Chief Justice observed there was no doubt the court had authority to set aside the finding of the inquest on sufficient cause being shown, but he was not prepared to say at the moment the course that should afterwards be adopted. Without giving any decided opinion, he thought from the affidavits read by MR. NORTON, and from the facts elicited at the inquest, that, so far from the deceased being in such a state of mind, as to make him a felon -- he was insane. The Court would however order the remains to be decently interred, and pronounce its opinion the following morning.

Tuesday Morning--JUDGES STEPHEN AND DOWLING took their seats in Banco, the temporary indisposition of the Chief Justice prevented his attendance in Court.

MR. JUSTICE DOWLING delivered the decision of the Court in the matter of JOHN HILL BLANCHARD. They had found from ancient authority that the Court had power to quash the proceeding of an inquest, for the want of form, and to issue an order to the Coroner for the holding a new inquest as reported in 7 Strange, 167.

The Court in the present case therefore quashed the proceedings for want of form, and directed the Coroner by name to hold a fresh inquest on the deceased, and return into the Court such inquisition as he should find.

(In the same paper.)
On Thursday last MR. LYONS sold MR. BLANCHARD'S Mill and Premises at Parramatta, for 1000 pounds cash.

Notes. As the paper notes, despite the suspected suicide the deceased was given a 'proper' burial, i.e. in a church cemetery, and as such a burial entry exists in the NSW BDM:
V18321339 16/1832 BLANCHARD JOHN H AGE 38
The age renders John Hill Blanchard as being born about 1794. The second jury returned a verdict that the self-inflicted death was conducted in a moment of temporary insanity.

Coroner's Inquests

Transcribed by Genie.

5 July 1832 Thursday

On Wednesday, an Inquest was held at the HORSE AND JOCKEY Public-House, on the body of JOHN SMART, who died suddenly the previous night, at this residence, in Adam's Lane, Goulburn-street. It appeared in evidence, that intemperance had brought him to an untimely end. Verdict -- died by the visitation of God.

Notes: No obvious entry in NSW BDM. They Sydney Gazette (Sat 30 Jun 1832) also noted of the inquest "at the "Horse and Jockey" public-house, in Liverpool-street, on the body of John Smart, well known as a nocturnal vendor of savaloys, who died suddenly at his residence in Adams'-lane, Goulburn-street, the pre vious evening.... It may be some-what important however and interesting to the savaloy loving public to know that their exquisite taste will not suffer by the loss of the defunct merchant, his evident copartner having succeeded to all the valuable recipes and stock-in-trade."


July 5 1832 Thursday
On Tuesday an Inquest by MAJOR SMEATHMAN, at the Currency lass, Campbell-street, on the body of JOSEPH IRVINE, who died suddenly in the BENEVOLENT ASYLUM, the previous day. The Jury returned a verdict "died by the visitation of God."

Notes: Probable entry in NSW BDM is
V18321673 16/1832 IRWIN JOSEPH AGE 45


5 July 1832 Thursday

On Thursday, an Inquest was holden at the BLACK DOG, Cambridge-street, Sydney, on the body of a man names WILLIAM WALKER, an old inhabitant, who died suddenly the previous day. The Jury returned a verdict of "died by the visitation of God".

Notes: No obvious entry in NSW BDM, but the Sydney Gazette names the victim as Richard Walker. As a sad aside the Gazette notes:
"In the course of the examination of witnesses, it appeared that a man of the name of Thomas Mosher, a poor cobbler living in the same house with deceased, went, between two and three o'clock, to the shop of Surgeon Hosking, and requested his attendance to the deceased, who had grown worse. Upon being informed that the applicant had no pecuniary means of remunerating him, Surgeon II. declined attending, alleging his "business would not permit him." At this conduct the jury, one and all, expressed their indignation in the severest terms language could convey ; as it was their unanimous opinion, that had the assistance required been afforded to the individual now dead, in all probability he would have recovered ; and this their opinion they requested the Coroner to represent through the proper medium."

Dr. Hosking subsequently wrote a letter to the Gazette protesting at the 'aspersions' cast on his character.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Coroner's Inquest

From Genie

25 June 1832 Monday
On Friday an Inquest was convened at the SETTLER'S ARMS, Sussex-street, before Major SMEATHMAN, Coroner for Sydney, on the body of EDWARD PRICE, an assigned servant to MR. THOMAS STREET, who died suddenly that morning. The Jury returned a verdict, accidental death, in consequence of the deceased having a ruptured a blood vessel internally.

Note: No NSW BDM record.

Coroner's Inquest

From Genie

23 August 1832 Thursday

On the same day, an Inquest was convened at the STEAM PACKET, Sussex-street, on the body of MALCOLM CAMPBELL, who was found dead in his dwelling that morning, his head reclining on his arm, which was placed on a table. It appeared that deceased indulged in spirituous and other liquors, which no doubt cased his death. The Jury returned a verdict of, died by the visitation of God.

Note burial in NSW BDM index:
V183263 102/1832 CAMPBELL, MALCOLM, AGE 38

There was also a report of this inquest in:
Sydney Gazzette
Tuesday 21 August 1832
Coroner's Inquests - More Fatal Results of Drunkenness
"Two inquests were held on Sunday, by the Coroner for Sydney, the evidence adduced at which afforded fresh proofs of the lamentable consequences of giving way to that brutalizing passion, a desire for excess of spirituous liquors....

The second inquest took place the same, after-noon at the "Steam Packet" public-house, opposite the Market Wharf, on view of the body of Malcolm Campbell, who died in that house some hours before.

The deceased was a settler possessed of some land near Kiamah, but resided in Sydney, at the " Steam Packet." For eighteen months past, he had been sadly addicted to habits of intemperance, and during the last six weeks rarely seen sober. On Saturday night, he was drinking hard as usual with several other individuals till the sacred hours of the Sabbath appeared. About 6 o'clock he again commenced, and after taking one glass of rum, drank his share of two half-pints of that spirit, and two quarts of beer, with a couple of other individuals, whose reflections on the subject - if reflect they can, appear likely to produce little reformation, judging from the fact, that when called upon to give their evidence at the inquest, several hours afterwards, they were still in such a state of stupidity and intoxication, that the worthy Coroner very properly declined tendering the oath. After his companions left, the deceased reclined his head on the table, whare he continued some time, till the landlord, supposing him asleep, went to rouse him, but giving him a shake, found to his horror that the unhappy man was unconscious of his grasp, his spirit having returned to God, who gave it. The facts of the case were too plain to admit of doubt, and the jury returned a verdict of "Died by tht visitation of God."


30 August 1832 Thursday

On Sunday last an Inquest was held at the ALBION HOTEL, Market Wharf, on the body of a man named MICHAEL HARTNEY, who died the previous day at the WOODCUTTER'S ARMS. It appeared the deceased was a Shingle Splitter and Ash Burner, and when he came to Sydney he was in the habit of spending all his money in Public Houses, DR. HOSKING was of opinion that he died in a state of intoxication-- Verdict, died by the visitation of God.

Notes: No burial entry found in NSW BDM. In 1828 NSW census, Michael Hartney aged 30 (b. abt 1798) is listed as arriving as a convict with a 7 year sentence in 1823 on the Medina, in the employ of William Harris at Goulburn Plains. The Sydney Gazette has a similar article published in its Tuesday 28 August 1832 issue.

Court records

From Gracie

1 August 1831 Monday
Court Records

"Friday, July 29-- HUGH CARRIGAN was charged by his wife, under the following circumstances:- An old woman bending beneath the weight of years, stated that about twelve months ago she was induced to marry the prisoner, who held a ticket of leave for Windsor, at which times she was possessed of about L 500 in cash, together with considerable landed property. The prisoner had found means to obtain possession of the cash which he had squandered away, and had sold every article of value out of her house, even to her gold watch, which he had taken off the mantelpiece; and on Friday night he tied her up in the passage of the house, and beat her unmercifully with the handle of a whip, till her body was perfectly black; this treatment was evidently resorted to for the purpose of obtaining possession of the title deeds of her landed property, which she refused to surrender, as she had six motherless grandchildren to provide for. The Bench after expressing their detestation of such conduct, ordered him ten days exercise on the tread hill, and informed him they should recommend his Excellency to cancel his ticket of leave.

MargM put together some notes on this poor woman:

Elizabeth THOMPSON, arrived per Indispensible in 1808, sentenced at Middlesex. Married George(?) NOBLE in 1809, and is listed in the 1814 Muster as wife of W NOBLE. A William NOBLE died in 1826 and left a will. In 1828 census Elizabeth NOBLE, 50 , free by servitude, a housekeeper of Castlereagh St. Elizabeth NOBLE married Hugh CORRIGAN in 1830.

The BDM index lists a burial of Elizabeth CORRIGAN in 1831 aged 60. Hugh CORRIGAN seems to have met his maker in 1834, aged 54 at Maitland.

Murder and Coroner's Inquest

From Genie

26 July 1832 Thursday

"On Wednesday, an Inquest was convened at the "FRIGATE", Clarence-street, on view of the body of ELLEN BRIFFIT, who met her death early that morning at the hands of her husband, WILLIAM BRIFFIT, a Constable , in the Sydney Police. It appeared by the evidence of neighbours, that the night previous, deceased and BRIFFIT were both intoxicated; BRIFFIT found a bottle of rum in his house, which deceased had planted, who said that a MRS COLE had brought it in; they quarreled, a neighbour came in and pacified them, and left them on good terms. At four in the morning, BRIFFIT awoke a neighbour, and said that ELLEN, meaning his wife, was dead, the person spoke to went into the house, and saw the deceased lying on the bed naked, with the exception of her stockings, he observed a mark on her knee, and something on her face, but being frightened he ran away. DR. BLAND deposed that he had viewed the body, and found that death must have proceeded from severe blows inflicted on the back par!"

No NSW BDM entry found, but the Sydney Gazette for Thurs 26 Jul 1832 that reveals more:


G. T. Smeathman, Esq., the Coroner for Sydney, assembled a jury at twelve o'clock yesterday, at the 'Ship' public-house, Clarence-street, to enquire the means by which Ellen Breffit came by her death. The jury having been sworn in the usual manner, proceeded to view the body, which presented a most horrid spectacle. The head was covered with contusions and blood; there was a deep incised wound, apparently inflicted by some sharp instrument, on the left thigh ; beneath the knees were wounds of a similar description, but less severe ;- and various other parts of the body exbibited dreadful bruises.

Hannah Cole - I reside next door the deceased ; I heard the deceased and her husband quarrelling last night ; I think it was between twelve and one; I thought he was beating her at the time, but am not sure ; did not hear the deceased cry out ; I did not hear any blows inflicted ; I do not think there was anybody in the house at the time the dispute took place ; I did not see any body, male or female, go into the house during the evening ; the deceased had been washing all day ; I saw her last about four o'clock ; she made no complaint then, and appeared to be quite well; she might bave drank a glass or so when I saw her, but she was sober ; about four o'clock this morning Breffit knocked at my door ; he was answered by a young man who lodges in my house; I heard him beg him to come in, for Ellen was dead ; he went in with him, but I did not; a little before seven I saw Breffit walking down the garden, and immediately went to inform the Police; I did so because the young man who lodges with me had told me that she was covered with bruises, and appeared to be dead.

By the jury - Payne told me that she was dead, and covered with blood and bruises, when he came in from seeing her at four o'clock, but I did not make an alarm till seven, because I was in a state of alarm myself; they were both very quiet people ; I did not say this morning that I heard him beating her with a stick, nor that I heard her cry out, and all the neighbours heard her too ; when I saw the deceased in the afternoon every thing was in its place ; I never saw the deceased much intoxicated ; I do not know whether Breffit went on duty at 12 o'clock last night.

Patrick Conlan, sworn - I reside next door to the deceased, in Clarence-street ; about 7 o'clock lnst evening I saw Breffit in Brodie's public-house, at the corner; we drank together, and Breffit was intoxicated ; he is very passionate when in liquor ; we remained together about ten minutes, when I left him and returned home Mrs. Breffit was at the gate, and asked me come in and take out Mrs. Cole, who I perceived was beastly drunk in Mrs. B.'s room ; I went in and carried her into her own house ; Mrs. Breffit was also very drunk, and in carrying a light to shew the way, fell down ; I told hor to go in and wash her face, and rouse herself up before Breffit should come in and find her in this state ; when she fell it was from the effect of intoxication ; Mrs. Breffit went in to her own house again ; there was nothing the matter with her at that time ; there was no blood upon her; Mrs. Cole's front door being open, and the property exposed, I went for Breffit, who came down and locked her door, and put the key in his pocket ; he then went into his own house, told his wife to get his tea ready while he went to the watch-house, and went out again; about half an hour afterwards he came into my place, where he remained about a quarter of an hour, and then went home again ; about ten minutes elapsed when his wife came into my house and told me that he was drunk and abusive ; I accordingly went back with her to pacify bim ; Breffit then searched the place and found a little bottle of rum, which she said Mrs. Cole had left there ; I made matters up between them and then left ; this was about eight ; she was more drunk than he was ; they have been often at variance, but I never saw a mark of violence on her person before ; Breffit observed that "whenever he went from home the deceased always got drunk, and if she would but abstain from rim he would be the happiest man in Sydney" ; I have frequently seen her drunk when he was from home, and the cause of all their quarrels was her drunkenness; the last I saw of them was about a quarter before nine ; I came outside my door a little after nine and listened, but hearing no noise imagined they had become reconciled, and went to bed ; I heard no more of it till seven this morning, when Mrs. Cole told me that Breffit had killed his wife ; I did not see any men go into the house yesterday, but there might bave been some without my knowledge; I think there was some jealousy between them ; I never knew a better husband than Breffit was to the deceased.

By the jury - When I went to fetch Breffit from Brodie's he was drunk ; when the deceased fell in Mrs. Cole's house, she did not receive any injury ; Breffit was always a very quiet man ; and the deceased was a very clean hard-working woman, when sober ; Breffit made an attempt to strike her while I was there, but I prevented him ; never heard such quarrels between them as to induce me to suppose that Breffit would ever destroy his wife ; I rather think that he detected her in infidelity a little while back ; he has told me so himself several times.

Bryant Payne - I am a ticket-of-leave man and lodge with Mrs. COLE, next door to Breffit's ; about four o'clock this morning, Breffit knocked at the door and called Mrs. Cole ; I asked what he wanted, and he said Ellen was dead ; I went in with him and saw her laying on the bed quite naked; there was a cut on the thigh, and the head appeared bruised ; I was so frightened that I ran out directly without examining the body ; all he said was "Ellen is dead, what shall I do I" I was awake all night with the rheumatism, and must have heard if any disturbance had taken place; but I heard none.

By the jury - I made no alarm, being afraid ; Breffit gave me no account how his wife met her death ; no conversation took place between us.

James Tobin - I am police conductor of No. 5 District ; I called Breffit up at 12 o'clock ; he did not come out for a few minutes, I did not go in ; we were on duty together ; about 3 o'clock, at his wish, we went round that way, and he went in, and came out again, but said nothing ; we had no conversation about the deceased ; about half-past four he requested me to let him home as he had got a head-ache ; he had wanted to go before, but I could not spare him ; he seemed very cheerful, and was sober.

Dr. Bland having examined the body, delivered the following certificate:

"I hereby certify that I have carefully examined the body of Ellen Breffitt, deceased, and have discovered several severe contused wounds upon her person ; one in particular, a deep contused cut upon the left side of the face, another just below the right knee, and one near the right temple ; besides several similar minor injuries on other parts of the body, and an extensive contusion on the back of the head. There was no fracture of the skull, but in the cavity of the skull there were two effusions of blood; a smaller one beneath the right anterior lobe of the brain, and an effusion of about four ounces of blood chiefly in afluid state, beneath the cerebellum. I am of opinion that the above effusions were the effect of the injuries on the head, and that the death of the deceased was their immediate consequence. I found about half-an-ounce of serous fluid in the ventricles - the brain in other respects in a porfectly healthy state."

Daniel Ryan - I am a constable ; I heard some words between Breffit and the deceased between seven and eight last evening; he shoved her out, but I did not see him strike her ; I called him about half-past eleven, when I heard the deceased groan ; I did not go in when I heard the groans ; I am sure the groans came from the deceased's bed-room, for I stopped two or three minutes at the window listening. (The witness was severely reprimanded by the Coroner for not entering the house when he heard the groans.)

The jury, after about a quarter-of-an-hour's deliberation, delivered the following verdict :- "That the deceased, Ellen Breffit, came by her death in consequence of wounds inflicted by her husband, William Breffit, in a moment of great mental excitement from feelings of jealousy and intoxication."

Coroner's Inquest

From Genie.

7 June 1832

"On Tuesday an Inquest was convened before Maj. SMEATHMAN, the Coroner for Sydney, on the body of a child that was found secreted in a sack in a Cesspool, in Clarence-street. No evidence being offered as to how the child came to be there, or by what means it had met its death, the Jury returned a Verdict "That the body had been place there by some person or persons unknown."

Note: there are three burials of unknown people transcribed for 1832.

9 July 1832 Monday

"On Friday, an Inquest was held at the BAKER'S ARMS, George-street, on the body of FRANCES JAMES, an young girl, age 10 years, who died from the injury sustained in consequence of her clothes having ignited from approaching too close to the fire. The Jury retuned a verdict of accidental death."

Note: No NSW BDM transcript found, but the Sydney Gazette has the following on Sat 7 Jul 1832: " CORONER'S INQUEST-DREADFUL ACCIDENT. An inquest was yesterday convened at the " Baker's Arms" public-house, in George-street, on the body of Frances Jacobs, a child, aged about seven years, who came by her death under the following distressing circumstances: About one o'clock on Tuesday, a person named Jacobs, resident in Hunt's cottages, having occasion to proceed with his wife to the other end of the town, left the place in charge of the deceased. Some time afterwards, the child, while endeavouring to reach some play things, knocked down the bel- lows which hung alongside the fire-place, and was in the act of picking them up when the fire ignited her clothes, and in a moment more was enveloped in flame. Her dreadful screams soon brought some neighbours to her assistance, who as quickly as possible immersed her in a pool of water hard by, and so extinguished the fire. Her legs and body being dreadfully burnt, she was wrapped in a blanket and conveyed to the shop of Dr. Hosking's, who applied some plasters to the parts injured, and she was conveyed home again, when the little sufferer lingered till Thursday night, when the hand of death terminated her excruciating agonies. These facts having transpired in evidence, the jury returned a verdict of "Accidental death."

So her burial register from NSW BDM appears for Frances Jacob:
V18321674 16/1832 JACOBS, FRANCIS S INFANT

Coroner's Inquests

From Genie

14 May 1832 Monday

On Wednesday an Inquest was conveyed at the PACK HORSE, Campbell-street, on the body of MARY LEAK It appeared in evidence the deceased had been ill for some months, and on Monday last her clothes caught fire, by which she was so severely burnt as to cause her death. Verdict, died in consequence of having received excessive injury by being burnt.

Notes - her NSW BDM record:
V18321644 16/1832 LEAK MARY AGE 50

Comments by MargM:
Who was this poor lady?  Wife of Jonathon LEAK/LEEK who arrived on Recovery (1) in 1819, a potter, of Brickfield Hill. She came free on the Mary Ann in 1822. Their chlidren arrived on the Fairfield in 1825. Jonathon LEEK/LEAK died in 1838.
An article on Jonathon LEAK, potter, published in World of Antiques & Art:

4th June 1832 Monday
A Coroner's Inquest was held at Parramatta on Wednesday, on the body of a young lad, son of MR. JONES , Butcher, of that town, who was killed the previous day by falling from a horse. Verdict Accidental Death.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Central Police Court

From Max Bancroft

Sydney Morning Herald 6th of March 1882

Mr. Clarke, S.M. Took the Bench on Saturday.

ROSE DUFFY was charged with vagrancy, having no lawful means of support. She
had been for several days seen lying about the Belmore Gardens, and was on
Friday brought before this Bench, when she asked for, and was granted, an
order for admission into the Benevolent Asylum, but did not avail herself of
it. It transpired that she had been an inmate of the asylum, but would not
remain there; she had friends she alleged who were well off, and aught to
maintain her.

To be imprisoned and kept at hard labour for three months.

SARAH BROWN, was charged with vagrancy. Sergeant POWELL saw her in York
Street on Friday afternoon and took her into custody as a person suspected
of having insufficient means of support. He said she was fined 20 shillings
on Friday morning, at the Water Police Court, for using obscene language.
Failing to satisfy his Worship that she had sufficient means of support, she
was sentenced to be imprisoned with hard labour for three months.

GEORGE BELL was summarily convicted off having stolen a butter cooler and
knife, valued at 38 shillings, the property of JOHN MAHONY, a publican, of
Sussex Street, who missed it from his dining room about 4p.m., and reported
the matter to the police.

Sergeant MULQUEENY, in the course of the evening, found the property in a
pawn shop listed for sale at 8 shillings, and the prisoner was soon
afterwards in custody. The pawnbroker said that he purchased it for 3
shillings and 6 pence from a man he took to be a hawker.

To be imprisoned 6 months.

Coroner's Inquests

17 May 1832
"On Monday an Inquest was convened at the Public House of TURNER, in Pitt-street, on the body of THOMAS PLANK, who died on the Saturday preceding. It came out in evidence that the day decease died, he was in Sydney in a state of intoxication and was place in a cart to be conveyed to Botany, where he resided. During the journey, the men who war with the cart, lifted up the head of deceased to give a drop of rum, when they found the vital spark had fled. Verdict, that the deceased came to his death from immoderate use of ardent spirits."

His NSW BDM burial transcript:
V18321441 16/1832 PLUNK, THOMAS, AGE 50
(Anyone able to look up the death transcript and comment would be appreciated - I can add the info here). In the 1828 census Thomas Plank is listed as 28 (b. abt 1800), free by servitude, having arrived on the Asia (2) in 1822.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Huntingdonshire villages mentioned in Australia

The villages of FH interest to me, Fenstanton, Hemingford Grey, Hemingford Abbots, Hilton, have few newspaper mentions in Australia:


At the residence of Mr. Alexander Livingston, 3, Fitzroy-place, Hobart Town, on the 11th September, 1853, Mr. Alfred Margetts, aged 36 years, son of the late Thomas Margetts, Esq., of Hemingford Grey, Huntingdonshire, England. The funeral will take place on Wednesday, at 3 o'clock, to which friends

are invited to attend.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Another Hill End / Tambaroora death report

This is a longer report published in a NZ newspaper of a suicide at Hill End.

West Coast Times (NZ) - 13 December 1872, page 4

(From the Sydney Empire)

An inquest was held on the 2nd ult., by the coroner of Hill End, on view of the body of Margaret Wilson, a servant in the employ of Dr. Carroll. The evidence of William James Dive combined with that of Dr Carroll himself, was sufficiently indicative of the cause of death.

William James Dive deposed: I am a servant in the employ of Dr Carroll. On Thursday afternoon last, about 6 o'clock in the evening, I was outside the residence of Dr Carroll minding the baby. The deceased, whose body I have just seen and recognized as that of Margaret Wilson, her maiden name being King, was working in the kitchen; a few seconds afterwards I saw her pass from the kitchen to the house which immediately adjoins. From thence she went to her bedroom, and directly  afterwards she came out again, and staggered against the doorpost. I was at that time only five yards from her. I asked her what was the matter, she replied "nothing." She again went into her own room and laid down upon the bed and called me in. I went in. She said "Give me your hand". I did so. She said then to me, "William, I've poisoned myself; I've drunk a bottle of chloroform ; comfort my people at home as well as you can ; do me a favor, go up to the factory (alluding to the soda-water factory at Cahill's adjoining), and tell George that I have poisoned myself." I went up, saw George, and asked him to come down. I did not deliver her message to him until he seemed to hesitate in going, when I did tell him, and he then came with me. I went into the room of the deceased again. At that time she was scarcely able to speak. I found during my absence she had moved from the bed, and was then lying on the floor. I left some one to mind the baby, and I went up to town in search of the doctor, whom I found and told of the circumstances, and he was at his residence a few minutes after I returned. The deceased has told me at different times that she would think nothing of poisoning herself, or blowing her brains out. I believe she told me that she was separated from her husband ; that he was very foolish for living apart from her, as she would have done everything that laid in her power to make him comfortable. I know that deceased frequently went up to see George Higgison at the soda-water factory. I am not aware the deceased had anny money or other property except her clothes.

Walter John Carroll, deposed: I am a duly qualified medical practitioner, residing at Hill End. I have seen the body of Margaret Wilson, known to me as Margaret King, now lying at my residence. She has been in my employ during the last four months. She was about twenty-one years of age, and I believe a native of Sydney. I have always understood the deceased was married and living apart from her husband. She was usually of a cheerful disposition, but now and then subject to fits of depression of spirits. On Thursday evening last, returning from Bald Hill, I was met by William Dive (my servant), and in consequence of what he told me I got my horse and galloped home. On arriving I found the deceased lying on her back under the verandah, near her bed-room door. She was insensible. In consequence of what I was told I went into my own room, and found the bottle I now produce, in which I usually keep chloroform, had been partially emptied of its contents. Fully two ounces of chloroform must have been taken from it. I employed the usual remedies, with the assistance of Drs O'Connel and Sam. On her return to consciousness, in about three hours, I asked her why she had done such a dreadful act. She said "Oh, sir, don't blame me - I'm broken hearted." In presence of Constable Gallagher I have examined the effects of deceased. I found a purse containing 10s in silver, a small quartz specimen which had rolled round it a half sheet of note-paper. The document marked A, now produced, is that paper.

On one side was written upon in a hand-writing which I recognise as that of the deceased, and, as well as I can decipher it, runs as follows:-
"Hill End, October 24, 1872,
My dear Mother, - I have tried to forget my trouble, but in vain ; I get down more every day ; I would like to die ; my dear mother, do not fret about me. I have made up my mind to shoot myself. I have done my best to get my husband to do right, but you know that he would not, and he has broken my heart. I never can live and hear it any longer ; my dear mother, do not think of me ; I cannot bear to write any more ; so good-bye, God bless you all
Loving child,

Deceased was aware that I have a revolver which she could have got at, and which was usually loaded ; I also found another letter, dated October 30, 1872, and directed to Mrs R. Clemesha, William-street, Redfern via Sydney ; the document I now produce, and marjed B, is that letter ; it is signed Margaret King, and is also in the handwriting of the deceased. It was writtein in a much more cheerful tone than the one marked A. I had never any suspicion that the deceased intended to take her life. The following is the letter:-
"Hill End, Tambaroora,
Oct. 30, 1872.
My Dear Sister, - I was so glad when I got your letter to-night, as I have been so down-hearted, and your letter has made me feel happy again ; for a kind word from a dear sister seems to have softened the dreadful pain. I am glad that Robert and the dear little children are all well, and I hope, dear sister, that you will get over your troubles all right ; I would very much like to come to Sydney, but I must wait a while before I think about that. I have made up my mind not to take a house as I think I would be very lonely. On last Friday morning I started at half-past five o'clock for the town of Turon. It is a very pretty pace, it is like a little valley.. It is covered with mountains. I got into the Turon at 12:30 a.m., and stayed at the hotel until 3 p.m., and started home. It took me three hours to come up the hill. I thought I would not live to get to the top - my leg was very sore the next day, but I am all right now. My dear sister, you ask me not to think it rude you asking me for 1 pound. I did not think so. If I had the 1 pound I would send it immediately. I will send it to you as soon as I get it. We had a thunder-storm yesterday. It rained very heavy, and it was blowing very cold here. I went down to the town last night, and just after I started it rained very heavy. The 'O.F.' are going to have a picnic. The Dr and Mrs are both going, and I shall have to be nurse to-morrow. I was asked to go to a ball, but cannot go as I have not got a dress. I would like to go very much. My dear sister,  can tell you no more news, as I am very tired. I have been ironing all day, so I say good night. With best love to all believe me to be
Your affectionate sister,

Verdict - "That death was caused by the deceased, Margaret Wilson or King, taking an overdose of chloroform whilst in a state of temporary insanity."



The marriage of Margaret King to James Wilson in Sydney in 1871 can be found in the NSW BDM indexes:

Her death was registered but obviously her parents were not known of at the time:

The sister she writes to, 'Mrs. R. Clemensha', married in 1860 in Sydney to Robert Clemensha, supported by details in the letter:

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

More Hill End deaths

The search continues.

Daily Southern Cross (NZ) - 14 February 1874
Australian News. New South Wales.
Nathan Fanhurst died at Hill End whilst undergoing a painful surgical operation for the removal of a cancerous tumour. He was under the influence of chloroform at the time of his death.

Note. NSW Death Certificate probably

The Brisbane Courier (Qld) - Saturday 14 June 1879
A miner at Hill End died suddenly yesterday evening through inhaling the fumes of dynamite left by himself near a blast. A fellow workman suffered from the same cause, but has since recovered.

Note. This is probably related to the article in the previous post related to death by inhalation of fumes.

The Maitland Mercury (NSW) - Thursday 14 October 1880
HILL END. Monday. [Herald]. An inquest was held to-day, at Sally's Flat, touching the death of James Ganon, who died suddenly on Sunday last. In accordance with the evidence given by Mr. Fisher, J.P., who was summoned by the Coroner, as he had prescribed for deceased, a verdict of death through inflammation of the bowels was returned.

West Coast Times (NZ) - 9 December 1891
A remarkable shooting case occured at Hill End (N.S.W.) last week. A miner named Charles Cross was found dead in his house with a bullet wound through the breast. Deceased's son, a boy of fourteen, stated when questioned that during the night someone fired a shot into the house, but he afterwards admitted he had shot his father, saying that he thought at the time he was firing at the dog. The boy is in custody.

Note. NSW Death Certificate probably

The Sydney Morning Herald. - Jan 29, 1918
A report made to the police on Wednesday stated that a man, Edward Hehir, employed by the Pioneer Shire Council, and living at Hill End, also an American negro, named William Coakley, had been drowned in the vicinity of Farleigh on Monday night, and their bodies recovered on Friday.

The Courier-Mail (Brisbane) - Thursday 19 April 1934
Mrs. M. Peterson
The death took place recently in Sydney of Mrs. Maria Peterson at the age of 94 years. Mrs. Peterson was bom at Camden, New South Wales shortly after the arrival of her parents (Mr. and Mrs. James Watman) from England in 1839. Being herself one of a family of 11 and having had 12 children, her relations are numerous, particularly in New South Wales. At various periods of her life Mrs. Peterson resided at the Hill End Gold-fields and other country centres in New South Wales and Queensland, where her husband at first followed the occupation of builder and contractor, and eventually became one of the leading mechanical mining engineers and investors in New South Wales. He died many years ago. The Peterson Battery at Hill End was widely famed in its day. Mrs. Peterson's eldest son, Mr. J. P. Peterson, resides at Clayfield, Brisbane, and her youngest daughter, Mrs. G. A. Moulday, at Eagle Farm. Other children, are: Mrs. Harding (Enfield, New South Wales), Mr. G. H. Peterson (Pendle Hill, New South Wales); and Mrs. S. Upton (Edithville, Victoria). There are 21 grandchildren, and 25 great-grand- children.